بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Sometimes, you may feel ‘wrong’ in a place. Disrespected, just: as a matter of another’s, or some people’s, ‘habit’. You can’t ‘make’ someone respect you, and see you as being worthy of honour, and of their kindness and care. Of being treated like you are genuinely important, and not just something to disregard.
Sometimes, a change of environment, for you, becomes necessary.
Obligatory, even. A change of friends, or of homes and cities, or otherwise.
The Häagen-Dazs strawberries & cream ice-cream is quite delicious. And: its ingredients… aren’t half bad!
The other day, I ended up staying at the CMC sisters’ accommodation, where my three fellow female classmates stay. Since it was late: they didn’t want me to walk alone. So at about 09:30 PM, I went to the local Co-Op (supermarket,) and got a new toothbrush and some toothpaste. A kids’ toothbrush, since they tend to come with lids [pro-tip from Sasha, my housemate].
I ❤ hygieeeene. And certain products designed for kids!!!!
Anyway. One of my classmates and I ended up having a bit of a heart-to-heart. Unexpectedly. I slept on the sofa, where there was a duvet; my classmate let me borrow some of her clothes.
In the morning, I had a bagel for breakfast: I’d purchased some from either Tesco or Co-Op the day before (protein-enriched. #bulking in a way, or trying to In Shaa Allah: people back in London would keep pointing out ‘how much weight I’ve lost’). Jam from my friend and classmate, A’iyshah.
We went to college together in Ayesha’s car, her Mercedes. And picked up Saffiya on the way: a fellow CMC student of ours who’d injured her leg while horse-riding, so she tends to take a (college-subsidised) cab to and from her accommodation every day.
I quite liked this video:
“It’s a cloud. It’s going to pass. It’s a cloud. It’s going to pass.”
Here is what my cousin said when I asked my cousins and aunt for Islamic song recommendations for my friend Jade’s wedding [Jade asked for Islamic songs playlists: literally my only pre-wedding duty, as her Maid of Honour. (I plan to rinse out that title so much. Maid of Honour Maid of Honour. AlHamduliLlah!!!!) But, since: her (near-future) brother-in-law has said he’ll do it instead].
And I believe and know that Allah is always caring for me. Loving us, and Protecting us. And that everything that has ever been meant for me will be mine, and for you, yours. Including all the ‘minutiae’, the ‘smaller things’, which hold so, so much value.
Leave it to God.
Did you leave it to God?
Good. Know that you will not be disappointed: not even in the slightest.
Muslims pray 5x daily.
This physical/material world be ugly, difficult, and did I mention ugly.
But: we seek out the beauty, and to connect ourselves to the Divine. While we are weak and frail and uncertain:
He is not.
Here is that beautiful bagel I had that morning [well, I made two. I had one, and Ayesha had one].
Here is a Duʿa to aid in boosting your income during this cost-of-living crisis:
Emily in Paris. Elma in London.
On Saturday, I went back to London for a day. And my friend Elma, who is from France, came with me: she’s currently in England (Cambridge,) working as an au pair (a nanny who travels from a different country, stays with a family, and learns about the country’s culture and more of its language) for a Muslim Nigerian family, whose mother is a doctor, and whose father works in Lagos, Nigeria.
A couple of things seemingly went ‘wrong’ that morning, but actually: bigger picture. They were going right.
I didn’t want to be late to the train station: I don’t want to be a late person. The last time I’d met up with my friend Elma, I’d accidentally taken a wrong turning somewhere, and had to walk all the way back. I ended up meeting with her late. She’s really kind about these things, but that’s besides the point. I love my friend and respect her time, and don’t want her to wait up.
So: I was going to lightly jog to the station. Iqra jogged/ran to college the other day. Once, she rode her bike, and thought that was ‘too easy‘, so she wore a weighted vest to make it more difficult for herself [!!!]
I ended up: taking a cab. And, I arrived at the station at 07:59; Elma and I planned to meet for 08:00. Yay!
Breakfast, for me, was: a single mini Toblerone, which Elma gave me on the train. And I napped on the train. I love naps, naps are good.
We had to take a bus, since the Circle Line wasn’t running at that time, on that day.
My younger cousins were also at my (London) house. Since: my aunt had a business meeting in Canary Wharf to attend. She took an Uber, and we’d come across her before we walked into my house.
Elma and I had hot chocolates (warming,) and croissants at my house. And eggs and potato waffles and hash browns.
My three cousins are called Sarina, Shakira [you can imagine the kinds of jokes that are made on account of her name… Shakira Shakiraaa], and Sasha. Baby Sasha. Same name as my housemate:
The previous day, Friday:
I called home (my mum’s phone) and asked if my brother Saif was available to speak. I don’t know how people live away from their loved ones for so long. Anyway, my family were out for a restaurant thing in honour of one of my aunts, who has learning disabilities.
My mum ended up calling me back late, and I was asleep but woke up to the call. My brother (ten years old) on the phone, and I was sleepy, and I cannot even explain how much I will always love this child.
I said I love you Saif.
And he said, to my sleepy happiness and to my surprise:
I love you too.
[My brother is a cool boy. A usual response to my I love you might be, from him: Okay? or Never say that again.]
But he sincerely said I love you too, and it touched my heart, truly and widely. I went to sleep happy, and woke up the next day with the words lightening my shoulders and widening my heart.
My dad says that my brother’s been missing me. I love my brother so much, AlHamduliLlah. [I also love how Elma habitually says, AlHamduliLlah. For example, if she catches herself about to complain about something, she’ll positively and gentle-firmly say, AlHamduliLlah.]
Before, I’d told my brother, in a comment on his YouTube channel, that I was missing him, see him soon. He replied to my comment once I’d reached (London) home: Welcome back. No heart emoji like the one I’d offered him, but you know what? I’ll take what I can get, I’m happy.
Here is my bookcase, which is currently in the living room. Some of my books are here (Cambridge home). Some might be in the garage, maybe, while some may be upstairs. But these ones are here:
About seven of these books were gifts.
Top left: the Guinness Book of World Records 2019. Was a gift from my baby brother <3. He got that for me from one of those school book fairs. How very sweet, no?!
Two of the books in this book case are: copies of the book my brother’s poem is published in. ‘This is Me’ is the name of the poetry anthology. There’s also a different poetry anthology, ‘Imagine’, which quite a few of my former English students are published in! They’re really good writers, Maa Shaa Allah.
I love the Cambridge Central Masjid. Built in 2019, and an idea that had been developing, in the works, for years.
The Muslim community here in Cambridge is certainly unique, Maa Shaa Allah. Here, the Madina of Britain. A place of Muslim students and academics, and revert Muslims, and people who have migrated to here (like me!)
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf visited the masjid here, and CMC, very recently.
A video from 13 years ago:
A place that is
“worthy of the religion.” [I want to be worthy of this religion too; do you?]
This place is a dream that became a reality: an ancient, worn-down warehouse torn down. And a place far more beautiful built there, in perfect place.
“Here, the weary traveller finds peace. It’s like a little promise of Paradise.”
— Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.
I’m a weary traveller. Are you? [This Dunya. Hay reh Dunya, in Bengali. Shanti nay. Meaning: oh, this world. There’s no rest/tranquility/relief.]
Anyway, Imām Sejad, who was one of the Imāms who’d interviewed me for the madrasah teacher position: he’d said that when Shaykh Hamza Yusuf had visited, he’d (i.e. Shaykh HY had) related a story. About a man who wanted to meet with a Shaykh, with a scholar. The Shaykh said sorry, asked if they could schedule a meeting for later: the Shaykh was running late for something.
I really need to speak to you.
The Shaykh said, sorry, we can schedule a time for later.
The next day, news came that the person had killed himself.
The Shaykh blamed himself.
The person just needed to know that somebody cared. *If somebody wants to talk to you, by all means: allow them to. A Hadīth Shaykh HY had been speaking about:
Please. Don’t ‘belittle’, in your mind, any good thing you do, and have ever done, and will ever do. A smile, a listening ear. Don’t forget how Merciful, Lovingkind, your Lord is.
Today I was picked up to go to Inaya’s house, to tutor her. A late start to this day, and AlHamduliLlah.
Simultaneous equations for Maths. A newspaper opinion piece about the ‘foodbank crisis’, for English Language. And some Macbeth, for English Literature (GCSE).
Inaya’s mum served me tea and cakes. And Zayna, Inaya’s six-year-old sister: what a cutie-pie, Maa Shaa Allah!
She was making something, in front of us, while we had our tutoring session. And it was…
A memory box! With scribbles on the other side, because colours (!!!!), said Zayna. [Lesson here: own your scribbles, girl. They’re colourful!]
I can’t believe she made this… for me???!!!! [Between this, the woollen bobble hat my student Amal made for me, and the painting from my other student Belal… And all the kind words from these kids. I love them so. The Muslim kids of Cambridge ❤ have my entire heart, they do.]
Now I want to fill this Memory Box with memories. E.g. perhaps: the Toblerone wrapper from the London trip with Elma. And other things. In Shaa Allah. A thing a day, perhaps, all the way until…….
Jade’s wedding daaaaaaay.
[Maid of Honour bag should maybe include: snacks for the bride. Water for the bride. Peppermint teabags [Jade likes peppermint tea, it’s calming]. Sewing kit, incl. safety pins. First-aid kit, and maybe blister plasters just in case. What else? Tissues. Wipes. Mario Badescu spray?
I want to be the best Maid of Honour ever, and for Jade to have as stress-free a wedding day as is possible. In Shaa Allah!]
After tutoring, I prayed at the Cambridge Central Masjid. And then bought ice-cream and drinks from the local shop, since we had our second ever ‘House Dinner’ today. Theme: movies. So the others made chips, bought pizza (from a Halāl shop, yay!). Made cheesy dip and got nachos and popcorn.
In this Dunya, our interpersonal relationships will be beautiful. They will also be: strained, at times, and times get difficult. We’re all flawed, and sometimes our flaws will affect others.
I believe in solutions. In taking some time away, in communicating, in believing in better.
So maybe when I feel ‘wronged’ by a person: I ought to focus far more on all the good that they are, and do.
Zayna’s art set and princess tiara, and a boxing mitt under the TV stand: [Zayna and Inaya have a third sister, Liyana. Their dad owns a restaurant, Maa Shaa Allah. And what a lovely, well-structured, well-mannered family theirs is, may Allah bless them].
*Zayna would like to be a billion-trillionaire. So she can buy her mum this house that her mum saw and liked the look of.
She also wants to be a scientist. Not a doctor, since: she prefers the idea of making the medicines, she said.
More things that Zayna has made:
‘There is neither mine nor thine’. From a Turkish saying.
*Friends who let you open their fridge. And perchance raid it. Are good friends indeed.
For breakfast this morning, I had scrambled eggs and fried mushrooms. #protein. AlHamduliLlah.
For one example: in 2018, I applied to study Social Sciences at Cambridge University. AlHamduliLlah, I ended up missing the grades for it.
The next year, 2019, I applied to study Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford University (‘lemme try the other one innit‘) and… missed the grades for it. I tried my best: we have to put our effort in, and ‘tie our camels’.
AlHamduliLlah. Here is what was mine all along: the things that Allah Wanted for me. Nothing that was not meant for me will be mine, and everything that God Wants for me will 150% be mine. It’s beautiful, I love it.
*Today I spoke to a sister called Amina, who reverted to Islam in 2011. We were speaking about a situation she’s in at the moment, and we talked a bit about how we both like solutions. Not ‘creating’ solutions, but exhausting the good, possible options. Finding the solution.
Here is a poem that I’ve quite liked. I shared it with someone who has been going through heartbreak. Truly: God has a Plan for you, keep doing your thing. Allah Loves you and me.
While, outside: sometimes it can feel like the night is starless. And like, sometimes: it rains, and rains and rains. Look for the sunlight, and the sunshine.
And for all the eternal beauty that, actually, this world, for us, quite contains.
Something that my aunt said today, which I want to record and keep here:
‘Everything of beauty has its thorn.’ *Jade’s wedding is soon, In Shaa Allah! Please make Duʿa for my beautiful friend, and for this special day of hers, and all that follows, to be beautiful indeed, and blessed. You may also, if you so please, pray that I live up to being the best Maid of Honour ever, and that my outfit is 10/10 on the day. And that I do not a) arrive late or b) fall down somewhere or c) drop any food on myself or d) become exhausted of socialising during the wedding.